A performance all-rounder
From the April 2023 print edition
Back in 2015, Ram introduced the Ram 1500 Rebel, a half-ton pick-up that strikes a balance between off-road prowess and towing and payload capacity.
Since its launch, the Ram 1500 Rebel has been one of that nameplate’s best-selling models.
Now, the heavy duty joins the game. The Ram 2500 Rebel is an entirely new trim for 2023. Like the smaller Rebel, it strikes a sweet spot by offering more off-road capability than the entry level trims but more towing and payload capacity than the Power Wagon all-terrain beast. More important, the Rebel is available not only with a gas V8 but also with a turbodiesel, marking the first time Ram has offered an off-road capable heavy-duty truck with a diesel powerplant.
The Ram 2500 Rebel comes with a respectable level of off-roading equipment, including a rear locker and rear electronic limited-slip differential (but unlike the Power Wagon, the front suspension here is a solid axle). It also includes skid plates for the fuel tank and transfer case, tow hooks, hill descent control, and
a Mopar sport performance hood. A 12,000lbs WARN winch is optional with the gas engine.
Regardless of engine, the Rebel comes with a standard rear five-link coil suspension and four-corner Bilstein shocks. Either 18- or 20-inch wheels come wrapped in Goodyear DuraTrac 33-inch off-roading tires straight from the factory. Opt for the available rear air suspension, and the rear shocks are replaced with airbag dampers that adapt either automatically or manually to a variety of loads and conditions, including a bed-lowering mode for easy hook-up of heavier trailers.
The 410HP, 429lbs-ft gas-powered 6.4L Hemi V8 is matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and cylinder deactivation helps improve its fuel efficiency in lower load situations such as highway cruising. The 6.7L, inline-six turbodiesel equips 370hp and a whopping 850lbs-ft of torque and is matched with a six-speed automatic. A Borg Warner electronic shift-on-the-fly two-speed transfer case is standard with 2 Hi, 4 Hi,
or 4 Lo modes, plus neutral mode for flat towing.
Part of the engine selection process involves weighing your needs against the towing and payload numbers. The gas engine is lighter, which provides higher maximum figures of 16,870lbs for towing and 3,140lbs for payload. The diesel engine’s weight means slightly lower figures of 14,920lbs for towing and 1,980lbs for payload.
Still, when viewed alongside the Power Wagon—10,570lbs of towing and 1,610lbs of payload—we see the benefit of giving up some outright off-road capability for better load performance.
A healthy amount of towing equipment is standard on the Rebel, including a Class V trailer hitch, a factory-installed trailer brake controller, trailer blind spot monitoring that works with no special setup required, and trailer tire pressure monitoring. In some configurations, a trailer steering assist function is available.
Both powertrains handle themselves well in every scenario we tested, from on-road cruising to climbing snow and ice-covered hill trails with water fording. Even among today’s more refined diesel engines, this one is notably quiet and smooth in its operation, at least from inside the cab. It does make for a heavier truck that takes more throttle effort to get going, but that’s par for the course.
All HD Rebels include Ram’s latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay
and Android Auto, and built-in Wi-Fi functionality (subscription required). An eight-inch screen is standard, while a large 12-inch portrait-oriented screen is available, as are a 17-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and additional exterior cameras. The interior can be upholstered with cloth, a leather that’s available with either a front bench or bucket seats, or a premium leather that comes with buckets only. With the buckets, a large centre console is added that includes 12 different organizing modes.
Pricing starts at $78,045 for the gas engine (including a $2,095 destination charge) and $87,495 for the diesel. Expect to pay a fair bit more, though: some key safety features as not standard, and other options are hard to pass up. Regardless, the Ram 2500 Rebel is competitively priced against competitors like the Ford F-250 Tremor or GMC Sierra AT4. Fleet managers who need go-anywhere, do-anything trucks will want to consider the Rebel for its appealing balance as a true performance all-rounder.